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WWDC Ticket Aftermath

The results the world had with Apple’s new plan where mixed. By a rough estimate over 20,000 developers where trying to storm the bastille at exactly 10 am PDT. But only a fraction was successful in winning the race, many just found a system in shambles.

Theoretically the idea was wonderful: announce the time that ticket would go on sale the day before so that everybody can get ready, ask their bosses for final approval and be in front of an Internet-connected Mac with Credit Card in hand …

I had made my personal bet at around half the time it took for sell-out to occur in 2013, around an hour or so. Maybe 30 minutes if Google IO was an indication. But never would I have believed if anybody told me that it took only slightly over 2 minutes for the Sold Out banner to appear.

WWDC 2013 Ticket Flow Chart

From the messages my colleagues around the globe has posted on Twitter and I pieced together this flow chart that shows all the weak points in Apple’s plan.

WWDC 2013 Ticket Flow


All the red post-its are areas where problems were encountered that we know about.

I was trying to get two tickets, one for myself, one for my employee who has never been to San Francisco nor to WWDC. Since there was this rule that each Apple ID would have to buy its own ticket I didn’t dare to edit the quantity box which I noticed with surprise when I made it into the member center. Would I have gotten 2 if I had had the guts to turn the 1 into a 2? We shall never know.

However, each team member must sign in with their own Apple ID and purchase their own ticket.

In the meantime my colleague didn’t see the Ticket button on the portal and when he finally saw it, the LDAP server had already died from the DDOS attach comprised of tens of thousands of simultaneous login attempts of desperate developers. So he was stuck in Login Limbo before he could have entered Member Center.

Logged In or Not Logged In

Later it was revealed that Apple did have some sort of cookie lottery system which assigned tickets to people already on the portal. With this number all you needed to achieve is to log into the member center so that Apple would have had the information that your e-mail address has assigned a certain ticket number.

Some people reported that their credit card company promptly barred their card as soon as they tried to pay for the ticket in their Apple Online Store shopping card. Only very few got lucky and were able to get to the orange bliss zone.

But as mentioned before, if you had gotten as far as being logged in and having a low enough number in the queue then you would get a second chance. LUCK 2.0 if you will. Because of these people Apple would actually pick up the phone and inform them that there was a ticket reserved for them. To which most responded happily “Hell Yeah!”

A Big Bag of Hurt

Which leaves tens of thousands of developers who failed at any of the shown red post-its.

I count myself amongst the LUCK 1.0 crowd, for which I am truly thankful. I had pleaded and begged Apple for a second ticket for my friend, my colleague, my best man… but as the weekend is nigh I am beginning to lose hope.  Oh well, there’ll be plenty other events for him to attend: #AltWWDC and CocoaConf being two first ideas.

PS: If you lucked out, but now cannot attend WWDC for some reason … email me and I can try to get your ticket transferred to my employee – of course in exchange for the money you paid – provided Apple makes an exception to the non-transferable rule.

Categories: Apple


  1. I was one of those lucky bastards that got the call, but I still had to wait for instructions. They said within 12 hours on the call but it took longer. But then purchase failed again. From posts on twitter I see the problem was for developers who belonged to more than one team. That has been fixed. Now waiting for the confirmation email to arrive. Could take up to three business days.

    Your chart still misses some bottlenecks 🙂

  2. So, any idea how to cancel one? I’m one of the “lucky” ones that got through, but I can’t

  3. Why would you want to do that? You could email me and I can communicate with Apple about trying to get your ticket moved to my employee.

  4. One thing Apple could try next year is to create a lottery. Announce the conference and give developers 48 hours to express their interest in it. Every ten seconds or so, draw a winner and send them an email giving them a day to purchase the tickets. Slow down the pace and continue until all tickets are sold.

    It’s not trivial because you need to balance between not overbooking and not taking too long, yet it’s probably easier to implement than trying to withstand a DDDOS (Distributed Developers…).

    I suspect you also get a more diverse crowd that way; not everyone is into or even capable of hammering a server at a precise moment in time.

  5. If you contact WorldWide Developer Relations (thru the Apple developer portal) you can let the conference organizers know what you want if you can’t get to WWDC. Do not vent at the WWDC people; it is not their fault. What I have asked for is:

    1. Live stream the sessions.
    2. Make the session materials (code, slides, utilities like demoassistant) available ahead of time for those of us watching remotely. This would also really help people in the session rooms to follow along instead of madly typing notes to catch up with later.
    3. Publish the schedule in the web. Don’t get cute and restrict to an app like they did last year. Lots of us will be following along in June and this would really help us plan to juggle work and WWDC.

    All of these should be technically feasible. The only obstacles should be policy-based, and if WWDC organizers hear from enough developers (politely but emphatically) they will listen.

  6. That should be WWDR people.